Sunday, 30 December 2012

Making a toy building site

It's been a very long while since I last blogged. Returning to work full time, settling Small into nursery and then Christmas and all that is one reason. I also got a tablet computer round about the same time I stopped blogging so don't turn on the laptop everyday any more and well, blogging on a tablet isn't much fun. Excuses, excuses.

Anyway, I have something actually useful to blog about, so blog I shall.

Small was the happy recipient of a flurry of diggers, construction vehicles and a rather awesome and huge remote controlled crane this Christmas. We'd got him a wooden garage for his cars and watching him whizz the toy cars around that for hours on end made me think he would like something similar for his diggers but you can't buy anything like that. I mean, you can get tonka playsets and stuff like that but you can't buy a building site set up the way you can buy say, a road layout mat. So I decided to make one.

I started with a spare plastic wardrobe drawer from Ikea that we'd bought years ago. There didn't end up being room for it in the wardrobe and it's served as underbed storage in Small's room ever since but we don't need the things we're storing it anymore. It's fairly roomy but low and has a lid, so perfect for this job.

I have no extra time off around the standard bank holidays and I didn't want this to drag on and on so where as I could have done some proper planning and experimenting and plotting out to get the best possible result, I just forged ahead in a rush. Anyone else doing this could no doubt achieve much more professional results if they had the time.
We keep a roll or two of lining paper in the house for Small to draw and paint on as it's cheap and stands up to the saturation levels of paint and scrunching that a toddler deals in much better than say, printer paper. I decided to line out the box with some of that so that in time to come if Small decides he is no longer into diggers, I can turn it back into a regular storage box again simply enough. I taped it together with parcel tape but probably some wide, high tack masking tape would have better in hindsight.
I wanted a few different levels to the landscape and at first thought of papier mache. However, I haven't worked with papier mache since I was a child myself and wasn't sure either of the drying time or my skills in forming the effect I would need. Also, I wasn't sure it would stand up well to the attentions of a almost 3 year old. I had the wheeze instead of getting a can of expanding foam filler from the DIY shop and fished some likely looking bits of formed cardboard from the mountain of recycling we have now all the Christmas toys have been relieved of their packaging.
I arranged the cardboard in place and then marked out roughly where I wanted the filler to go in pen. I wanted to put a couple of digging mediums in the lowest level so marked in where I'd put filler for a divide between the two as well.
Spraying in the filler was fun. Lots of fun. I'd only bought a medium sized can and it didn't go quite as far as I thought it would but it did the bulk of what I needed. At the time, I thought perhaps I'd need a little papier mache in the end after all. Once it had finished it's expanding and hardened enough to be carved and I'd sculpted in a flat surface on the top two levels, I had enough bits cut off to glue down in the other areas and do the job.

The next job was to paint. For speed and a fairly hardwearing finish, I used enamel spray paint, yellow for the ground level and brown for the upper two. Some grey might have been good too, but the paint was £4 a can and I was trying to keep the costs down. I'm not unhappy at all with the effect of just those two colours. Once the paint was dry, I added some flocked paper from the model shop, black tarmac effect for the road at the top and grass effect for the "walls" and road verges. If I was doing it again, I might have made a full cardboard foundation for the road and it's sweep down the incline and set it into the still wet filler for a better finish, but it's serviceable as it is.

And that was pretty much that. I used a hot glue gun to do all my sticking down as it's fast and secure across all types of surfaces. I put some Moon Sand in the smaller section of the ground level and a mixture of dried beans and split peas in the larger section. As I had a few small pebbles hanging around from projects past, I threw them in too. I imagine that some well washed, rounded fish tank gravel would also work well.

I got all the materials I needed on Saturday afternoon, from either a DIY shop or a specialist model shop, total spend less than £20. It was ready for presenting to Small by 3pm on Sunday. He loves it and played with it for four hours solid until bedtime, with a brief pause to eat his tea. It's still in once piece, so I'm calling it a win.

Friday, 2 November 2012

I went out for the evening.

It's ironic slightly that after deciding I couldn't maintain a daily entry here I got loads of inspiration but no time to actually write about them. I honestly couldn't decide what I wanted to blog when I realised I had a few minutes to myself this evening.

However, as going out for the evening ought to be matter of course but sadly, sooooo isn't and given that this particular night out was completely awesome, it wins. Introspective seasonal posts and whines about my health can wait.

Big goes out all the time, every Saturday he has a regular dj gig at a rock pub in a neighbouring town. Of late, he does the Friday and the Saturday. Beside that, producing the podcast gets him free entry to any number of rock and metal gigs and festivals that he cares to ask for. Between the dearth of babysitters available to us and my usual need to be curled up in bed at a reasonable hour in order to function day to day, I don't often join him.
This was a special occasion. Firstly, it's half-term and I've booked leave from work so have some leeway with the fatigue. Secondly, the in-laws were not only willing to babysit, but to keep Small overnight! Thirdly, the gig in question was ALICE COOPER!
I love Alice Cooper. He writes and performs great songs, is a pretty great dude in himself and his live shows are something else entirely. I have seen him once before, last year and besides doing all the songs you can think of when you think of Alice Cooper (Billion Dollar Baby, Poison, Elected, School's Out, Feed My Frankenstein etc) he also had a giant FrankenAlice puppet, shoved a mic stand through someone and was executed by guillotine for the crime. The theatrics are worth going to see alone.

This year he's doing a whole new set for the Hallowe'en tour so we were promised a different show. Besides that, he was supported by Duff McKagan's Loaded and Ugly Kid Joe. Both acts appeal to my teen nostalgia in ways I can't begin to describe. So I took off my Mummy Head and rummaged down the back of the sofa and in the back of the cupboards until I found my old Rock Chick head and this was the result

Not bad, when you consider how out of practice and impoverished I am (I'm a mother)
So with that we bundled Small into the car, dropped him off with toothbrush and George Pig and off we went to Sheffield City Hall (via a very nice Thai buffet for tea)

Big had to interview the very beautiful and talented guitarist Orianthi before the show but a very small and very terrifying pit bull of a woman attached to the tour refused to let me join him so I hung out with another blagging journo of our acquaintance who, it turned out, was one reason the pit bull was so pissed off. He'd overrun his own interview slot. 
I also allowed myself to be utterly fleeced for a tshirt. It's a nice tshirt though. 
Then the bands came on.
Loaded were great, really relaxed stage presence and good solid rock tracks. Duff McKagan makes a rather good frontman and unlike his former bandmate and frontman who shall go nameless, hasn't descended into overinflated ego and overinflated stature self-parody. Good start. 

Then Ugly Kid Joe. Now, I was excited to see them as I loved them when I was a teen but I was admittedly also a bit worried that they'd be past it. Not so, not so. Amazing set. Whitfield Crane is incredible, he was everywhere, running through the crowd, jumping the seats in the stalls, dragging seated people to their feet, challenging the audience to get into the spirit - everything you want from a support band and more. Besides which, they still rock, Whitfield can still sing the same as he did *coughcough20-oddcoughcough* years ago. 

Then Alice.
I understand from Big that there had been complaints from those elements who always complain about something that the Hallowe'en tours had been the same for too long. Well, this year it was all new. This set didn't let up at all, the tempo was fast throughout and we just had to keep up. It was lighter on some staples (No Elected!) but threw in some covers of departed contemporaries in a 'Raise the Dead' segment which was just fab. I imagine the moaners will just have complained that he left out too many favourites instead but sod em.

I could not have had a better time. Look, there was even a snake!
That was probably the last night out I'm likely to see for maybe another year so it's just as well it rocked there and back again.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Haunted cakes and gingerbread skeletons

We threw Small a Hallowe'en party. Just a small one, but still the prep took me all week and left me shattered! Don't think I'll be doing this again once I'm back working full time. Worth it though -

Small had a blast, but is now slightly confused and thinks it's his birthday. Sweetly, he seems to associate birthdays with parties, but not presents. The spider costume he chose a few weeks ago and has worn intermittently since sadly only lasted five minutes before he was hauling it off again but hey ho, he's two and it's his prerogative.

I've spent today being largely immobile and extremely lazy so that we can enjoy our half-term holiday as fully as possible. As well as the trip to the zoo that Big is determined to fit in, I'd like to get some serious housework done and some clutter junked in readiness for the reduced amount of time I'm going to have keeping the house nice come December. I want that, but I also want to have a lovely break with my wonderful men.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Panda Wednesday

This is a very relaxed looking panda. I hope you're all as chilled. Happy Wednesday.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

My so called life.

I have begun work on my most adventurous cake yet. A small two tier castle cake with witches flying on broomsticks around it. I had meant to get the witch figures done tonight so they had the week to dry but the first step is the broomsticks and they haven't dried enough to build the rest of the figure around them yet so I'll have to try to find the time tomorrow. I have done the door, all six broomsticks, a cauldron and covered the cake board though so that's a pretty good start. 

Wow, the banality! Sadly, I have nothing more interesting to talk about at the moment. My entire life is preparing for my return to full time work and doing stuff for Small's hallowe'en party. I have a lot of very cute ideas and no real idea where the time is going to come from to do it all! Story of my life.
So that, apart from watching Strictly Come Dancing, is that for me. Perhaps I need to stop trying to make an entry every single day - I'm just not that interesting!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Panda Wednesday

Mama said there'd be days like this. 

I haz a headache, but nothing gets in the way of Panda Wednesday.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A flicker of light in the tunnel

Did I mention that I went for my appointment at Endocrinology?
I was so happy to get the referral, then so disappointed to be met with the same indifference I've come up against so many times with GP's. Even so, the consultant did agree to send me for the one remaining blood test that hadn't been done, although she didn't expect anything other than a normal result.

As it turned out, the result was 'indeterminate' and required more testing to be sure. I got a letter last week to let me know that the other hospital (over in Halifax) which does those tests would be in touch. Of course I almost immediately hit the internet to explore cortisol tests and what on earth might the problem. Sadly, although I have the result of my tests, all the Google-fu in the world can't help me determine if my cortisol is higher or lower than it should be. I just can't make sense of what info I can find. Wikipedia, naturally was as unhelpful as general google results but with the added dimension of giving me various diseases and syndromes to pour over and compare symptoms with until I'd decided I was suffering from almost all of them. Nothing for it then, I'd just have to be dull and wait for my next appointment to ask someone qualified. Boo.

The initial appointment had come through pretty quickly, I think it took about a month. I had no idea how long it would be to get the next one. In fact, they phoned me yesterday, 3 business days after I got the letter from the Endocrinology consultant. and invited me to come for my test next week, Monday or Tuesday - my choice. I chose Monday. I'm delighted it's going to be so fast!
My hopes are rising again, maybe I don't have CFS/ME, maybe there's something wrong with me that they can fix! Maybe I'm just round the corner from getting well! Oh what dangerous, seductive dreams are these. No matter how many times my hopes are dashed they still get entranced and fetched away by the spectre of future health.
But you never know, maybe this time it's true.

Monday, 15 October 2012

It's all coming together

We checked out the nursery today, Small and I.
It's lovely. Everything I expected from my visit to their sister-nursery in the spring. I really liked it.

More importantly, Small just rocked in and headed straight for the first room he could see, sat down and started playing. We herded him up to the pre-school area he'll actually be attending eventually and again, unfazed by all the other strange adults and children he just got stuck in. He came looking for me once, but only to clipe on some other kid 'snatching' and I'm not even sure that was true, he has been to known to cry 'snatch' when anyone goes near a toy he wants to play with. Other than that, his only moment of unhappiness was when we had to go.
I'm so proud of him, it bodes really well for when he starts going properly.
Happily, they have enough space for him on the days and hours that we need too. The only real drawback in all this is that, at least until Easter when his 15 hours of funding kicks in, I'll be mostly working to pay for childcare and commuting fares. All this to be around £100 per month net better off. For all that though, it's £100 we need.

Sunday, 14 October 2012


Yeah, we three watched this happen live. Of course we did.

Ok, so Small found Peppa Pig infinitely more interesting than the ascent and the checks but we were all watching avidly by the fall. I confess, I think the guy is insane but it was incredible to witness.

Something else too, was a joy to witness. This -
A moment where all three of us were absolutely together, sharing the same emotion, the same excitement. Of course we share events every day, from the mundane to the amazing but it's harder than you might think for all three of us to feel the same at the same time. Small is so young, his emotions are so intense and most experiences are so new, two thirty-somethings are very rarely able to get anywhere near the same feeling. Tonight, watching someone step out of a capsule 24 miles above the planet with only a pressure suit and a parachute to get him back down safely... we got there.
I love my family.

Saturday, 13 October 2012


Yeah, I failed to blog yesterday. There are really only two things in my head at present and one of them is a good friend in a painful situation that I can't fix for her and have no business discussing here and the other, well yesterday the other was just too much.

Regular readers (I assume there must be at least one) will know that I've been looking to change jobs. And that I'm very worried about the implications of doing that. I'm also worried about the implications of not doing it to be frank but I've now reached a point where I can see drawbacks in every road I could take and now I think I have chosen the way to go.

I do a dumb job at the moment but it wasn't always so. I've worked hard over seven years and through performance related pay I've worked up to quite a decent salary. For the work I currently do, it's more than decent. The last couple of months of job hunting have shown me that even if I discount the cost of commuting out to Leeds, I can't pull in the same money doing a similar job here. Also, because all my recent experience is in the monkey job, it's hard to prove my worth when applying for higher level jobs. So that's one thing.

Then there's the fact that my mortgage is tied to my current employer at a good rate. Yes, I have a tax penalty to go with that but it still better than we'd be without it.
Where I am now, I can pick my hours - more or less - and they're reasonable about making changes when necessary.
I have the fatigue to consider too. I've got job security where I am, as much as that exists these days. If I took a new job, full time, and then had an attack like I had earlier this year? I'd be out on my ear in a heartbeat. In addition (my tests came back and I need more tests on my cortisol) I know my current employer will accomodate hospital appointments but can't rely on that with anyone new.
My current employer does childcare vouchers, not all employers do.

I don't particularly want to work full time but I know we can't go on indefinitely on this income. It's a struggle at the moment and I worry constantly about affording things. When I first lit the fire under me to change jobs, I sold myself on the full time thing. I knew that finding a job in a smaller town, at the same salary AND the same hours was going to be impossible. We had a wonderful holiday this summer, with the best will in the world I know we could in no way give Small another one and keep me working two days a week. With the way essentials keep rising in price, it's doubtful we'd even be able to afford to heat the house!

Then there's Small. I think he'd benefit amazingly from nursery. He's nearly 3 and won't be accepted by the nursery attached to our local junior school until next September. It's too long for him to wait. He's a bright, funny, sociable boy and would really thrive among other children. I do my very best to keep him active and teach him through play and all these things but... well, I certainly don't get the variety of things done that a good nursery can. I've found a good nursery too. One that does forest school, outdoor play in all weathers, adventurous and healthy foods - hell they even get the kids growing food and then eating the crop! Ofsted love them, they're wonderful. We have a visit scheduled for Monday to look around it but I've been around one of their sister sites a few months ago and was so impressed. I really hope they have space for him.

So yeah, I'm going to go back to work full time, where I already work. It's the best thing I can do at the moment and Big and I can really make it work. I feel horribly guilty for planning to spend less time with Small, but we need this and it's going to be so good for him too. I get to find out if I can work full time without burning all my bridges and there's nothing stopping me from changing jobs later if I still really need to.
Oh but my baby boy. The guilt.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Thursday Holding Page

Oooh look, tiny little piglet!
I shall love him and hug him and call him Wilbur.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Feeling so inspired!

I love Great British Bake Off.
I hate Brendan, but judging from the reactions of everyone else I know who watches it, this is quite normal.

But I do watch it painfully aware of my own shortcomings. I love baking and turn out a pretty good selection of treats when I have a mind to but I'm by no means up to anywhere near this standard. There are so many baking staples I've never even tried. Probably because I've never seen my Mum or Granny make them either and all I know of baking, I learned from them.

It's way past time to branch out though. I should try to make choux pastry at least. I should try to make creme patisserie. I should make better bread, more varieties of biscuits, I should not be so frightened of pastry (really I shouldn't be, I've never done badly any time I've made it from scratch, I just very rarely want to risk it)

Of course, funds are limited and experimenting can be costly and wasteful if you don't get it right. I also tend to bake only when I have a reason to do so and when you have a good reason to bake, you don't want to cock it up and be left with nothing. But I should just do it, I will.

I will.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Rant Ahoy, on crimes and punishments.

As I sit here, a candle burns in my window, as requested by the parents of April Jones to mark a week since she disappeared. I have literally shed tears over the fate of this little girl.

That said, I will not be joining the social media clamour for Mark Bridger's hide, nor for the reinstatement of the death penalty.
Mark Bridger, for one thing, has not been tried let alone convicted. He cried before magistrates today when he appeared in court to have his charges put to him. Was he crying out of remorse for what he did? Out of fear of those gathered to hurl abuse at the prison van? Out of the desperation of an innocent man who's terrified he's going to jail for something he didn't do? A cynical ploy to throw people off? Self-pity? I don't know. Only he really knows. Only he knows if he's guilty too, at this point.
As for the death penalty, well to quote Neil Gaiman -
[I believe]  that while all human life is sacred there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system.

I'm 36 years old. I have served on two juries in my life, once in Scotland and once in England. Both cases were serious but in totally different spheres, one was GBH and firearms offences and the other was a child abuse case. Here's the thing about trials. Your job is not to judge the defendant, your job is to evaluate the evidence and jump whichever way seems most convincing. But people are people and they do judge the defendant. You watch them in the dock while key evidence is heard to see if you can catch a clue in their expression, you are swayed by emotional witnesses, if one of the lawyers isn't very likeable, that goes into the pot too. In both juries I've sat on, about one third were convinced going in that the defendant wouldn't be in the dock if they weren't guilty, another third have no trust in the police and are aching to find a reason to let the defendant go and the other third is made up of people who just want to go home, or who want to impress all the other jurors with their detective skills, or will just go along with the loudest voices because they don't like confrontation. Oh, and one who was convinced she was Demi Moore and someone would be coming round to threaten her into finding the defendant Not Guilty any moment now and therefore wouldn't be a part of any decision.
While I'm fairly confident that we reached the right conclusion in both cases, I wouldn't want to bet a life on it, would you?
No, I'm afraid I side very much with Blackstone in that I do believe it's better than 10 guilty men escape than one innocent should suffer.

And besides, look at all the countries with the death penalty in place. People are no less murdered, families are no less devastated, society is no less debased, justice is no more served.

What of the cost to the Taxpayer? That's often trotted out, why should The Taxpayer fund the incarceration of those convicted of terrible crimes? As one of The Taxpayers, I think I have as much right to answer that as anyone.
Prisons are not fun. They are not holiday camps. They may well feature TVs and games consoles, toilet blocks even! But they are not fun. That's why they have to lock the doors to keep people in there. Yes, it's not the 19th Century any more and we don't brutalise or mentally torture prisoners any more. Can't say I think that's a bad thing. Call me a wet liberal do-gooder if you like but I find it hard enough living in a world where people who commit such crimes exist, without demanding my home state behaves in an equally pathologically inhuman way. For one thing, if you start allowing the state to abuse it's captives, what's to stop them turning the same attitude to everyone else?
We as a society are supposed to be better than the people who break our laws. Or what's the point?

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Winding up.

It was a beautiful day today. Sunny, clear skies, warm even. In a feat of unparalleled personal discipline, Big and I totally resisted the temptation to go running off to the park or somewhere and instead did the household task we knew we had to do and had agreed to do. This has never happened before, it's almost like we're grown-ups.

As a result of this miraculous determination, we have parted with more junk from the garage which has made room for the garden furniture, barbecue and Small's outdoor toys like his sandpit. All things that really shouldn't be left out all winter, but usually are.
I also cleared some weeds, pruned the fruit trees and cut back the herb garden. Maybe, just maybe I won't spend this winter looking regretfully out the back window at all the things that I should have sorted out before it got too cold and damp to want to venture out there.

I've also changed our quilt over to the winter one so I'm really, properly facing up to the oncoming season. Any minute now I'm going to agree to Big turning the central heating on, sparking our eternal winter battle over the thermostat.
Big likes to heat the whole house to upwards of 22C and will open windows when he feels a bit too warm. I myself believe that anyone who behaves in such a way warrants instant forfeiture of their lives. The thermostat is placed where we both walk past it several times a day and so I turn it down, he turns it up and we both roll eyes and mutter about each other. All winter long.

Bring it.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Are they conspiring against me?

Just a short one tonight.

I'm beginning to suspect that Big and Small are in cahoots together against me.

Whenever I ask Big to do some chore, suddenly Small either does something cute and distracting or chucks a wobbly until I've forgotten I asked him to do it. Well, if not exactly whenever then certainly very often.
Not just that either, every weekend we go and do the supermarket shop. Every weekend Small starts fairly well then begins playing up when he is restrained from "helping". Almost without fail it is necessary to remove him from the process and take him back to the car before we get to the checkout. As the only responsible adult in the area, it's always me who has to finish the shopping (because I know what we need) then heave it all onto the conveyor belt and pack it at the end, pay and haul it back to the car, while those two are having fun playing with the wipers and listening to ZZ Top on the radio. Even on the occasions when Small doesn't need removing, Big is so consumed with what he calls "wrangling" that he can't possibly assist me with the unloading/reloading/paying scenario.

I'm being taken for a mug here aren't I?

Friday, 5 October 2012

Recovered at the last minute!

Today I had to go and do a thing. I couldn't take Small with me so arranged for his grandparents to take him from about 11am until Big could go pick him up after work. Then the thing had to take place earlier than expected and for less time than expected and I ended up with a whole 4 hours to myself.
No child, not even sleeping.
No husband with things to do and places to go.
I wasn't even at work.

So with a elegant sufficiency of options open to me, where I could have tried to cadge a last minute hair appointment, or got nails done, or just gone window shopping - I nipped to the supermarket and went home.

Seriously. I didn't even curl up in bed with Game of Thrones for a couple of hours despite how tempting it was. No, I put on laundry. I hoovered. I baked some empire biscuits. I made the tea. I tidied up toys. 

Total Me-Time Fail. 

(I will capitalise whatever like, I will structure sentences however I like. This is my blog, get over it)

Still, I've pulled it back tonight. It's DJ night for Big so the evening was my own as soon as Small was in bed. I practiced piping icing on my empire biscuits and learned that I really, really don't do well just snipping off a very small end of a disposable piping bag and need to get a proper fine nozzle. After I'd finished that, oh ho, into pj's, cup of tea and a biscuit all ready just in time for Strictly Come Dancing! Cheese, sequins, nervous celebs and Craig Revel Horwood's Panto Villain criticisms to the sound of the panto-sheep audience. What could be better?

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Thursday Holding Page

I will spare you jokes about being a little hoarse. Especially as it's a zebra.
But isn't he gorgeous?

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Panda Wednesday.

I'm thinking of April Jones a lot today. Please bring her home to her own mother's arms soon.
Bring all lost children back to their families.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


I'm looking to change jobs. There are very many reasons for me to do so. I accepted that the change would necessitate my going back to full time work and I'm mostly resolved that this is a good thing, both for me and Small. I've worked where I do for seven years, the entire time I've lived in Yorkshire. In mostly the same department with mostly the same people, although the job itself has changed dramatically in that time.

It's been more than a month since I started applying for stuff and I'm mainly applying through agencies. I'm beginning to get call backs and my details putting forward to employers now so it's all beginning to get a bit real. I may actually do this.
For all that this is a good thing for me to do for all three of us, it's a big change and a scary change. The easy thing would be to keep things as they are. Keep spending the majority of my time with D and keep just about ticking along financially. It would be secure (ish) and safe. Just probably not right.

It's so tricky to know what the right decision is, if I turn it over in my head enough I can convince myself of anything. It's not about money exactly, at least for the first few months of any new job I take at the moment I would struggle to end up with much more than I currently do even working part time, because of childcare. But there are more things to think about that just the wage. Yet I still have a major case of collywobbles when I think of all the consequences of this change. Of course, I have yet to gain an interview, let alone a job offer so I'm probably jumping the gun a little...


Monday, 1 October 2012

Projects, always with the projects

I've taken it into my head to make Small a Wolf Suit, akin to Max's in Where The Wild Things Are. Small loves that book so I think he'll get a kick out of it. I'm no seamstress of any sort, I've made clothes before but not well and not with any form of skill.
To make it easier on myself I'm trying to source a white, fluffy onesie to use as a base, then I'll add ears, claws and tail. Oh and crown. Because it seems nigh on impossible to source a toy crown either online or in shops around here, today I bought a metre of gold lame fabric. I'll get some wadding and make a template and see how I get on. Really, how hard can it be?

It doesn't have to be achieved by hallowe'en if I can't manage it, Small found himself a spider costume in Sainsburys at the weekend that was on special offer so he can use that if need be. Although he has already been wearing it and climbing through his play tunnel singing about Incy Wincy Spider.

Something that does rather have to be achieved by hallowe'en is my other project. I've decided that as I'm throwing Small a hallowe'en party, I will grab with both hands the excuse to make one of those fancy cakes I've been itching to try out since I bought the damn book. I've chosen a moderate design, a castle with witches flying round it to base my cake on and off I shall go! Yes, on top of all the other things to be done when throwing a party. Yes, I am insane, but at least it's the creative, harmless sort instead of the 'take all edged weapons and edge-able items out of her reach' sort.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Just one more...

Last night I stayed up til 1am watching Game of Thrones.
Please understand I'm usually out for the count by 10pm by necessity so 1am is usually only known to me if Small wakes me up to perform some small but vital service to him in the night, such as locate the comfort item that has slipped an inch from his hand... Anyway, what I'm trying to communicate is the unnatural nature of my late night.
I only stopped there because Big was still out and regardless of his parents' frailties Small will get up well before 7am and tolerate no argument from us. I've jonesed lightly all day to see some more but when Small napped this afternoon, there was Dr Who to catch up on (Farewell Amelia Pond, you were the best assistant in a long time and I'll miss you)
Finally the little one was packed off to bed for the night and within moments I had the next DVD in and priming. That's the second ep of the night just finished, there's just two left to go and I want to watch them. I really, really want to watch them.
I'm being strong, I will complete this whiney little entry and then I'll go to bed and read Game of Thrones instead. I've been next to dead all day because of my choice last night and dammit, I will learn the lesson! I really will. I know how it ends anyway, I've only got a loan of the first series.

Ohhh but I really want to just finish watching it.

Saturday, 29 September 2012


This evening I'm watching Game Of Thrones. It's good. The casting, Mark Addy aside (he's good too, but he's not the Robert Baratheon I imagined) is wonderful and it's done better than I imagined HBO would do it.
But I miss Big. He's DJing again, as he was last night. It's funny, the whole time he was off work I craved a little time to myself and now I have it, I feel the space he's left.

I haven't the skills to cultivate very close friends, but he's my best friend and my pretty much all else. I miss him when he's not here. I miss him when I'm not there. Which is not to say I couldn't cheerfully strangle him half the time when he is there, but I understand this is what is called "marriage".

Friday, 28 September 2012

Late to the party again

But I've finished the first Game Of Thrones book.

I loved it! I finished it on Thursday and immediately got the next one wired to my Kindle. When I started reading it I didn't think I was going to enjoy it. It was a bit dark and dour and I'd just come off the Harry Dresden books which while they have their darkness, are playful and fun in tone with scattershot geek culture references.
There are no geek culture references in Game Of Thrones. It starts cold and dark and brooding and to be honest, it doesn't get any lighter. But it does get addictive. An Arthurian world but with the rose-tinted glasses pulled away to reveal the politics and machinations behind the chivalry and facades of honour. In Westeros, honour bestows a short life expectancy.

But you know this, because you've watched it on tv. I haven't, although I hope to have by the end of the weekend. I don't expect to enjoy it as much as the books. It's HBO, so it will have done what HBO does and take a story with the odd bit of sex, or reference to sex and produced a programme where people have sex constantly or are at least constantly naked to keep you entertained while going through all the dull exposition. Not that I'm saddling up to be the next Mary Whitehouse here, I'm not objecting to it in theory and it keep the channel going and producing interesting tv rather than talent shows and freak shows. And freak talent shows. I'm pretty much expecting a parallel with True Blood, I enjoy the show and the books but the two don't really bear much relation to one another beyond the names of the characters and a few of the plotlines. Neither one spoils the other unless you let yourself get upset about it.

It's wonderful though, fantastic to have the women being more than vapid princesses or evil witches, although  those tropes exist too. I can't wait to read some more of it, and to that end, goodnight.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Thursday Holding Page

Rays have such cute little faces, especially considering they're essentially flat sharks. This is a baby ray and although definitely skirting the same cute/horrific line that the baby raptors did the other week, I'm definitely falling on the Cute side.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Panda Wednesday

It's cold out there, so snuggle down this Panda Wednesday.

Incidentally, feel free to alert me to any Panda snaps you'd like to see gracing this spot. Stick links in the comments and although I might not post the comments, I will post the pics if I like them and credit you into the bargain.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Mists Of Pandaria, first impressions.

Mists Of Pandaria launched last night/this morning depending on your time zone. I've had one of my busy, busy days which began with hauling out of bed at 7am with Small on a running start to go get a blood test (again) that just had to be done at 9am at the local hospital and ended about 10 mins ago when I finished polishing and spraying wet weather protector on my shoes. My, that was a long sentence.
Anyway, I haven't had a lot of time for gaming. I nipped on as my new character and there was no difference for her, so I created a new Pandarian character and played for about half an hour while giving my poor back a wee rest. Not really enough to judge maybe but enough to get a first impression.

Now, I started a new character when I returned to WoW a week ago so I can pretty much judge the difference quite fairly. My Worgen character hit the ground pretty much running and was a lot of fun to play, I was hooked in right from the start and keen to finish quests and bump her up the levels. She also got some cool trebuchet things to play with early on, got to fly a giant bat on bombing raids on her second day... fun.

The most fun I had with the panda was choosing her appearance. She's cute as a button, in a very Princess-Fiona-As-An-Ogre way. Out of habit, I selected her to be Hunter class, because I like being a hunter, so she got a crossbow very early on but where the Worgen started off with a range of shot options and her pet had some interesting battle functions, Panda-girl has a single shot and a turtle pet who doesn't seem to anything much. Oh, it fights but it doesn't have the cool options that my Worgen's pets have. Neither does Panda-girl seem to begin with the ability to tame her own pets. Then they send you out of the training academy to get set upon by killer monkeys who're actually a little tough for such a low level character. When he tried, Big's Panda character got killed by his first encounter with the monkey things and he was only on his first quest! He's also a much better player than me, so it really shouldn't have happened.

I'm not by any means a hardcore gamer, all I ever played is WoW and even then I've not explored the whole gamut of what the game has to offer and as I say, it was only a tiny little taste of the new launch but my first thought was really just that Pandaria is not as fun a game and I will have to think about whether I want to bother giving my panda a proper chance and see if it gets better or just concentrate on my Worgen for a while.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Career choices.

This is fairly apropos of nothing. I was just thinking about it today and wondering what I would say to Small in 10-12 years time when he's got to start looking at careers.
Firstly I think it's slightly obscene that a society that doesn't grant it's youth enough maturity to choose to smoke until 16, get married until 16 and drink til 18, nevertheless expects children as young as 12 to make decisions that will shape it's entire future and gives very little opportunity to backtrack later. Yes, you can do it but it's not made in the least bit a straightforward or easy process.

Anyway, I never had a clue what I wanted to do for a living, still don't really. Careers Advice at school wasn't up to much, to my memory it consisted of a maths teacher being taken out of timetable for a week and interviewing each kid in turn, telling them what subjects they needed to follow that path. If you didn't know, you were given access the Big Book Of Jobs (not it's real name I'm sure) and told to pick something.
Not having a dream to fulfill, at least in my case, made things much harder. In the end I just a few subjects I liked and the rest of my timetable was filled with compulsory subjects and ones that were the least bad of what was left. There was no feeling of having to do well, because I didn't have a goal to focus on and  anyway I was busy being adolescent and angry and unpopular.
It seems to me now that it might have been valuable if someone had helped me find a goal, a dream, something I badly wanted to do. I think I went about it all the wrong way. My memory of career choices as they were presented at school was that girls could either aim to be a doctor or a lawyer at one end of the scale, a secretary or nursery nurse at the other. I didn't have a clue about what those jobs actually were about, I didn't know what other myriad choices there were out there. It was all the wrong way round. I shouldn't have looked at the list of jobs and tried to find the one I could aim for. I should have looked for the things in my life I enjoyed - not the subjects, gods if only someone had told me then what a false, fleeting misrepresentation of life school subjects are - but actual activities, interests, events that I was happiest when I was doing and then found a job that let me do them. But back then there was so much focus on how you should do the subjects you were good at and that would lead you to the job you were aiming for. Such silliness, being good at something when you're 12 might be talent but talent only takes you so far. It's hard work that you the rest of the way and if you have to work hard anyway, you might as well give subjects you're not so natural for a go if you have the drive to make yourself do well and achieve your dream.

Listen to me, like I'm delivering a revolutionary new way of educating our young. I know it's not an epiphany and I know that what a 36 year old woman thinks would work is not the same as what a 12 year old thinks would work. Maybe though, if I can keep hold of this thought for when the time comes, I can help Small not to flounder, not to struggle, not to feel that he's being left behind in a world where everyone else knows what they'll being doing when they're 40 and he barely knows what he'll be doing next week. I hope so.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

A late spring clean...

I've gotten a bit of a stress on for clearing up and clearing the house of late. We've only been here two years and I thought we'd binned a lot of junk when we moved but junk just seems to breed when you're not looking. Surfaces in every room get cluttered with stuff that is put down for a minute until we can find a home for it and then that becomes it's home. It's maddening and you reach a point where you think you've tidied up  then you realise you've just worked back to the level of untidiness you're accustomed to.

Today I went to Costco and came home with one of those chrome wire racks that they do for the kitchen. We've got a few already, I keep the towels and bedding on one in our airing cupboard and Big keeps his comic book coffin boxes on another couple in our spare room. Now I have another one actually in the kitchen where they belong. It's now home to our bins on the bottom shelf, both general waste and recycling - off the floor where I can get cleaned around and under then more easily. The next shelf holds my baking bowls, my cake decorating toolkit and bobs (yes, I keep all my sugarcraft stuff in a toolbox, and?), foil, cling film, baking parchment and polybags on the next one and then slowcooker and other electrical gadgetry on the top. I'm not sure that's how it's going to stay, I might move some stuff off and swap it for other stuff but at the moment I'm happy. It's cleared some space from the worktops, made the stuff I use daily a bit more accessible and gives at least the impression that those things belong there rather than were just put down there for a moment and forgotten.

I'm not even done yet, I've also bought a proper big clothes drying rack. Very big actually, so big that once I'd unfolded it I realised I don't have anywhere I can put it where it won't dominate the entire room. However, it's better than using the sides off Small's cotbed to hang clothes on when I get the laundry out on the line. And it being in the way means it's more likely I'll fold and sort it as soon as it's dry. I've already made a start on clearing away old toys of Small's and will be tackling other ignored corners of clutter as I go over the next few weeks.

I have no idea what's got into me.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Winter Is Coming

Yes, I'm reading A Song of Ice and Fire at the moment (Game of Thrones) so the title came easy.

It is though and the change of seasons is more pronounced than the spring/summer change was. The air is chill, although it doesn't yet have the bite that will come in another month or two. The winter pansies are in bloom, the leaves are starting to turn, it's damp and misty and the nights are noticeably drawing in.

I love summer, but I love autumn too. All the seasons have their place, especially when they behave as they are supposed to and of all the seasons, you can pretty much rely on Autumn being Autumn.
It's a good time, cheery lights brightening the dark nights, warm homes to come in to, hallowe'en, bonfire night, stews and soups and harvest foods, comfort foods. You can enjoy all the benefits of winter before it gets too hard and dull and the novelty's worn off. Then of course there's the slow meander through early winter and into Christmas. The whole time is steeped in traditions and customs that remind you of how much easier our lives are now, how this time used to be a time of preparing to literally survive until spring. Of course, many wouldn't survive. Bonfires are about more than Guy Fawkes, people lit bonfires at that time of year long before he walked into Parliament with his honest intention. Fire was important, fire was the difference between life and death. We're lucky that the worst we have to face in winter now is the odd day where the buses and trains don't run. I think we often forget just how lucky we really are.

Oops, didn't mean to get melancholy, this is what Game of Thrones does to you. It's a happy time really, at least for me.
In deference to the Equinox, the season shift and the harvest, today I have baked an apple cake, the recipe one I got from a friend who lived in Sweden for a time. I haven't eaten it yet, it's for later but because I made it, it's heavy on the cinnamon and smells wonderful. Yum Yum.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Thursday Holding Page

Bear Cubs = cute
Polar Bear Cubs = CUTE!
Damp Polar Bear Cubs = OMG SQUEEEEE!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Panda Wednesday

For anyone who feels a bit out on a limb, I give you - Panda Wednesday.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Sucked Back In

So not two minutes after I finished posting last night's blog, I thought I'd happen by Battlenet and see if I could even remember my old sign ons. I did.

Then I thought I'd just check out how much it would be to play again but first I updated my email details and stuff and before I knew what was happening, I was entering card details and upgrading to Mists of Pandaria in readiness for it's release next week. And playing.

Somehow, it was suddenly after midnight and I was still playing. Ooops. It's like crack, you can't just have a little WoW.

And it's communicable. I hadn't finished arguing with Battlenet to stop messing around and let me in (par for the course, that much hasn't changed over the years I've been out) before Big was also resurrecting his account and re-entering the fray. He's managed to recover his old character on his old server though and I couldn't figure out how to do that so I'm playing with a new character, a werewolf. I've got her to level 10 already so quite happy with that.

Oh dear though, it does suck away your life. Hours fly by and you don't know where they've gone!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Attack Of The Killer Pandas

Or if you want to be all official about it, World Of Warcraft- Mists Of Pandaria.

I'm tempted. Oh yes. Pretty much because it's pandas and well, you know me by now. I used to play WoW, back when I was childless and flush with money. (these two circumstances are not co-incidental). Even in the realm where the maladjusted, socially awkward geek is standard, I was still On The Edge. I played alone. I played for the Alliance - don't judge me - I was a Draenei, a hunter with rather excellent skinning skills and a pet sabrecat I called Baby. I avoided fights with any other players and avoided alliances just the same, except when I had a mission I couldn't quite finish on my own, then I'd call Big over for help.

No guilds, no socialising, no being shown up. Just jogging lithely over a mystical landscape with a giant tiger. Happy days. I'd actually been looking forward to maternity leave and being a beached whale for a while so I could just sit there and play and no one could object. Then of course Small arrived 3 months early, before I'd actually stopped work and there was no time and then no money so I cancelled my subscription. I miss it. And now it has pandas in it. I wonder if I can remember my account id and passwords. I wonder how much it is now. I wonder where I can hive some game time from.

Yes, I know. I'm a sucker.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Autumn cooking

This weekend has been largely about food. I've baked and cooked a fair bit, even for me. Yesterday as I said I made scones and macaroons, the day before I made rhubarb crumble muffins. I started today making bacon, scrambled egg and toast sandwiches for breakfast then went on to cook lentil soup for eating later in the week and fried onion bread, some of which will be eaten with the soup and some was for making steak sandwiches for tonight. The weather has been a bit dull and wet so it's just perfect for some lovely comfort cooking. I thought for today's blog I'd post up some of the recipes.

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins.
For the muffins
13oz plain flour
7oz caster sugar
1&1/2  tablespoons baking powder
half a tsp salt
6oz room temp butter
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
6fl oz milk
1tsp ginger or mixed spice
6oz chopped rhubarb

For the crumble topping
3tbsp plain flour
1/2-1oz butter
1tbsp demerara sugar
1tsp ginger or mixed spice
Rub butter into flour and then stir in sugar, baking powder salt and spice. Separately, beat together the eggs and milk then add to the dry ingredients with the fruit, mix until all combined but don't beat or overdo the mixing. Divide the batter between 12 muffin cases in a muffin pan and then sprinkle over the crumble topping. Bake at 200C for 30mins or until a skewer comes out clean. 

Lentil Soup

1 large onion
3 medium carrots
1 medium sweet potato
2 sticks of celery
2 pints of veg stock
3oz red lentils
a drop of oil

Chop all the veg up into small pieces. Heat the oil in a big pan then add all the veg together and stir around so they start to cook a little in the oil. When they've taken on a little colour, add the stock and lentils. Simmer long enough for all the veg to be cooked then blend til smooth. 

Fried Onion Bread

1lb Strong Bread flour (White or half and half white and wholemeal)
1 sachet instant yeast
1 tbsp butter
tsp salt
11floz half water half milk, tepid
I large onion, chopped. 

Start by frying the onions very gently so they soften and brown and crisp at the edges but don't burn. Set aside.
Combine the flour, yeast, seasoning and butter with the liquid in either by hand or in a food processor and mix until it forms a ball. If using a processor, let it run a little while to knead or knead by hand until the dough is soft but not sticky and a pinched bit of dough reveals a network of bubbles underneath the surface. Add a bit more flour if the dough is too wet. Knead in the fried onions then place in an oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling film, place somewhere warm for an hour to 90 mins until doubled in size. If using a breadmaker, just throw in the onions once it's mixed it into a dough and let it knead them in but a food processor will just blend the onions into the dough which isn't as nice. 
Turn the raised dough out onto a floured surface and knead again for a few minutes then form into your chosen shape. I did two baguettes and a cottage loaf as you can see, but any shape will be fine, or turn into a  loaf tin. Cover with oiled film again and allow to prove for another half hour before baking at 200C for about 30 mins for a single loaf, less for multiple smaller breads. You know they're ready when they sound hollow when tapped on the underside. 

These are my recipes. They are either based on ones I've gotten from friends/family and adapted for my purposes or are entirely cobbled together by me as I go then written down while I still remember what I did. I'd love to hear how you got on with them if you make them but if you repost these recipes as they are here, a credit and link back would be nice. 

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Saturday Night Fever

It's the weekend, I'm a *cough* young *cough* woman it's time to PARTY!

No wait... it's time to watch Strictly, Dr Who then Man V Food while doing some embroidery. Wow, Rock and Roll :D

I'm not even all that bothered, I haven't enjoyed a night out that didn't involve a gig in about 18 years. I don't drink and whatever anyone might tell you, going out on the town sober is not fun. That's why everyone else is  busily getting a skinful. No, maybe that's not true, I am after all basing my opinion on mainstream nights out, in mainstream bars and clubs with mainstream people. I get annoyed by the music, the drunk people, the heat, the barging, the interminable wait at the bar to buy drinks that are too expensive and watered down to boot. Besides, there are people there and I don't really like crowds of people I don't know. I barely like crowds of people I do know.

I should actually be out, I was invited to, had accepted and was with every intention of attending my friend's little gathering of Ladies for dainty foodstuffs, pampering and yakking this afternoon/evening and was booked to provide macaroons and scones for it to boot.
Then Big's employer dropped another whammy on him, or rather refreshed the whammy that's been hanging over us most of the year and suddenly I was less confident about waltzing off to spend best part of a day having fun without him while he minded Small. I pulled out, but still did the baking and dropped it round then he tells me he's agreed to take the other DJ's night at the Turk as he wasn't needed for his night yesterday and it turns out that I couldn't really have gone anyway. So here I am, watching TV on a saturday night while my twitter feed informs me of every track Big is playing, just to remind me that everyone else, even non mainstream people, have a better social life than me.
And to be quite honest, I even like it this way.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Of Bugs and Boys

I was going to write about the turn of seasons today but I can't now, I have to talk about my kid.
Hey, sue me.

For the last couple of weeks Small has taken an interest in dressing up. He sees kids doing it on the tv and gets all excited and wants to do it too. The problem is that despite being over two and a half, The Prince of Dinkiness is only wearing clothes sized for a 18 month old. Dressing up outfits around here tend to come in size 3-6 years. Oh, not little girl outfits. You can get cute little fairy dresses or witch dresses or whatever for baby girls of all ages. Around Hallowe'en you can usually pick up some very sweet costume babygro things for babies and up to about 18 months but he's too old to wear a vampire baby gro for heaven's sake!

I suspect at this point you might be thinking "oh it doesn't matter if the outfits are a bit big, it's playing" or possibly "just make some costumes!" or even "do you know that on XYZ website they do really cute dressing up outfits for all sizes and I'm sure you'll find something there"

  1.  Small is a precise child, if something is too big, he tells you so and shrugs it off in seconds. I took him to the toyshop and tried to put a doctor's coat on him that even came with a stethoscope and he loves stethoscopes but no "It's too big Mummy" and on the deck it went.
  2. I possibly could make a costume, if I could find somewhere in Huddersfield that sells fabric, if I wasn't a bit completely hopeless with my sewing machine, if I could even dream of measuring Small without him squirming out my grip and making off with the tape measure and if I could somehow shoehorn in some time before I pass out with exhaustion every evening. 
  3. I have looked, there are some real doozies of costumes out there and they cost a flipping fortune! 
We saw some really gorgeous costumes in Costco the other week, there was a spaceman one Small was particularly taken with and even though it was quite dear Big at least would have given buying it serious consideration if they'd had one even approaching his size but they didn't. It's annoying.

Anyway, he's been particularly keen over the last couple of weeks to dress up as a ladybird. I've seen ladybird costumes but based around a black and red dress. I've seen bee costumes too (Small loves bees almost more than ladybirds) but again, dresses. Much as I disapprove of gender stereotyping and constricting a child's choice into Boys Things and Girls Things, I'm not going to put my son in a dress. Sorry.

Today I happened into Clare's Accessories, a shop I visit once a year maybe and was showing Small the witches hats stuck on hairbands that they do and generally messing about when I said to him "I know babe, it's not a ladybird outfit is it?" when the sharp eared sales assistant piped up "We do have ladybird stuff, it's over here" and directed me to a wall display with packets of wings, antennae hairband and ladybird wand (no, I didn't know ladybirds had wands either, but it's a bit reminiscent of a jester's stick so I like it) Sold to the woman with the cute insect fixated small boy. 

And he loves it

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Thursday Holding Page

Well I think this is cute. I am a big fan of raptors in general and kestrels are so beautiful. Look at those wonderful eyes.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Panda Wednesday

I'm having problems with this one, I can't decide if I think it's real or not. But then my common problem with pandas is that they don't look quite real even when they are, they look too much like a guy in a suit.
Of course, the anthropomorphism is why we love them so much.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Who needs to run?

Well frankly, not me.

I've sacked it off, for now at least. The doubts I discussed after completing the first week of the programme didn't really get resolved and then I found that Small wasn't as adverse to finding himself back in the pushchair after the summer break as I feared and when you're pushing a two year old up hill and down dale through Huddersfield for a couple of hours a day, there is neither the need nor the inclination to then haul yourself out for a run as well. I'm comfortable with that.

Besides, the walking isn't all I'm doing. Now Big is firmly back at work and not messing the place up, I'm slowly but surely reasserting some kind of order into this three storey Clutterfest of Doom. On top of that, I'm keeping a two year old entertained and cooking daily meals. I'm busy. Today I cooked not only for today but for the next two days as well, this was after the two and a half hour tromp around town (where I actually remembered to book a contact lens check up and if I remember to attend it too, will have averted them stopping my direct debit and washing their hands of me entirely)
Not content with this for a day's activity, after Small's nap we also did some painting.
Small loves painting. Or I should say, Small loves getting all the paint stuff out, covering every available surface, including himself, in a blend of all colours of paint then dropping all the paint things on the floor and asking to get down. Why yes, he is only allowed to paint from within the confines of his highchair, I'm not an idiot. Not entirely anyway.
It's usually a very messy way to fill about 30-40 mins before he gets fed up and wants to do something else and it's sort of awesome to just resign yourself to the fact that it's going to be a big clean up, do what damage limitation you can and let him go for it. Just on occasion.
So yeah, don't really need to run.  

That's right, the pic on the fridge is not the pic he's waving at the camera. Because the pic he's waving at the camera "wasn't finished yet" and indeed wasn't finished until so saturated with paint that it disintegrated. 

Monday, 10 September 2012

Kill me now.

It's September the 10th.
Yesterday, my mind wandered while I was doing the ironing and I found myself checking with Big our plans for Christmas dinner. (We take turns spending Christmas in Hudds or Aberdeen. As this is a Hudds year, either I decide to cook for the three of us, or we go his Mum's)

Today I found myself clearing out Small's Amazon Wishlist for his Christmas and Birthday presents, ready for this year's entries. And I added some too.

Lets say it again,


It's too damn early to think about Christmas. It's too early to be thinking I'd better start picking up stocking fillers to spread the cost. It's too early to start thinking about what I'm going to cook and what I can get done in advance and freeze. It's too early to watch Small like a hawk in toy shops to get ideas to direct people to.

It's not that I dislike the whole Yuletide deal, I love it. But I love it in December.
I don't want to even acknowledge that it's coming until Hallowe'en is out of the way. It's not fair.
This is what being a parent does to you, it makes you start thinking about the end of the year when you're still trying to enjoy the middle!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Superpacked Sunday

Wow, I've done a lot today!

Small got me up at the crack of dawn, then once Big had been similarly dragged from his pit and a large quanitiy of coffee had been consumed it was time to boot up and head off into what Big terms 'enemy territory' or Lancashire. Bolton to be precise, for a much overdue, if brief meet up with fellow Mum, fellow blogger and all round bundle of awesome, MermaidinJeans and her very beautiful family.
Small, a boy who unlike his mother is completely unperturbed by meeting new people - came in, sat down and started working his way through all the toys on offer. I can only apologise to our hosts for the utter devastation he left in his wake.

Small had half his nap in the car on the way home, falling asleep three quarters through the sandwich I'd for once remembered to bring. Then was straight back into his own bed once we got back, leaving us free to have our own lunch before spending most of the afternoon doing laundry, taking yesterday's grass cuttings to the tip, and cooking a thyme roast chicken so good I'm fairly sure that if the chicken had known it's fate it really wouldn't have minded at all.

And yet I'm confused as hell as how it is that I seem to spend every waking moment of my life tidying up and cleaning but my house is still a tip! Seriously, it's a frigging sty and I have no idea why. I suspect that allowing people to live in it has something to do with it mind. And I still have the ironing to do.

Tomorrow my sudden transformation into a social butterfly continues as Small and I spend the morning at least with the third friend in four days. I could get used to not being a pathetic, desperate loner.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Indian Summer

Today has been cracking. This week has featured some of the nicest weather we've had since our week in Cornwall and today really topped the chart.
The heat wiped me out a wee bit, I'll admit and while the mind was willing to take Small to the park, the flesh was weak. Nevertheless, we have a garden for a reason so after we got back from the supermarket shop I cut the front grass and Big did the back grass and we set up for a barbecue and a play in the backie for the afternoon. Lovely.
I made some simple chicken and sausage kebabs and we just had those plus the rest of the pack of sausage with some tortillas and a couple of buns. Small is a bit meat fussy at the moment so wasn't keen on either option so we just out our smallest le cruset pan and heated up a tin of sausage and baked beans for him instead. It worked better than I suspected it would actually! Also barbecued a potato waffle with slightly less success, but Small ate most of it anyway.
It was a lovely way to end the day, with the added bonus of actually getting to christen our bargain new garden table which we picked up the other week in the Ikea sale! Now I'm blogging away to the sound of Big giving Small his bath and putting him to bed, the earliest Big has taken him in weeks, because we both want the little dude settled and fast asleep before Dr Who comes on with dinosaurs on a spaceship.
Oh yeah.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Thursday Holding Page (a little late)

Whoops, brain fried more than usual yesterday and I totally forgot.

Worth waiting for though, no? Oh come on, it's BAMBI!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

1st week complete

I've now done all three workouts of the first week of my running programme. All in all it wasn't quite as horrendous and embarrassing and painful as I feared it might be and despite the odd moment of doubt/despair, I completed all three workouts as directed.

At the moment, I think it's something I could continue and start building up my running times but my concern is with a route or venue to do the running in. I live in a very built up area with steep hills and not very well finished pavements. The first time I ran, Friday, I ran around the local cemetery. Which was fine even on the paths which have mostly grown over, and it was raining. The problem with running there is that it's not lit at all so as the nights draw in, it'll be pitch black in there.

Sunday I thought it might work better to run in the day, rather than evening so Big and I took Small up to the park, I ran round the park and they played. That worked out better than I thought as I wasn't as embarrassed about hauling my wobbly bum round a busy park in broad daylight as I thought. I might be able to keep running there on Sundays around the same time, so long as I can promise to not need my sunday afternoons for anything else (Big doesn't get up on Sunday mornings). Indeed, the local parkrun uses the same park.

Today, I tried exploring a route running around the block. The way up the very big hill was painful and I think running back down it was probably cheating. Even so, I ran out of block and had to head into the cemetery anyway. Extending the route any more would involve too many busy roads to cross that would break the flow. And a fair stretch of that route doesn't have a pavement at all, which will not be fun or safe in the dark.

I could run up the other big hill to the park then run around it and back home, but the problem there is that it's a very old street and the pavements, although newly resurfaced, are extremely narrow. The road is very steep and the park closes at 6pm in the winter. I can't run when there's no Big to mind Small, I can't take Small with me, I can't afford to join a gym and run there.
I don't really know what to do.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Baking with Toddler, success!

Decided to take another shot at baking with Small. While he napped this afternoon I got all the ingredients sorted out for shortbread, creamed the butter and sugar together and left the flour aside for him to mix in as he likes mixing.
When he woke up I gave him enough time to come round a bit then said we were going to make biscuits for Daddy. This was accepted cheerfully as Big's new term started today (no kids but still need the teachers in) and Small was not adjusting well to Daddy being missing. We mixed in the flour, turned out the dough and cut out star shapes with cutters. Small got a bit carried away and just liked plunging the cutters into the dough, regardless of whether that bit of dough already had a shape cut out of it and ate a fair bit of the raw dough too but we had fun with it and wasn't too messy. He even helped with the washing up afterwards bless him.
So the trick seems to be to pick your recipes carefully and make sure there's a bit where he can just play and have fun and it doesn't matter.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

DVD Extras

I have one massive failing in my geekdom, my complete and utter lack of interest in 'extras' I don't watch Dr Who Confidential. I haven't watched a DVD extra since DVD's first came out. I'm just not that interested.

Thing is, if I want to see the film, I want to see the film. I don't particularly want to be distracted from the film by listening to the director or cast waffling over the top of it. You'd shoot them if they tried to do it while you were sat in the cinema after all.
Added to that, if I want to watch the film then I probably have a couple of hours spare in which to do it, not a couple of hours then another hour or so to watch behind the scenes stuff and blooper reels that frankly, aren't that entertaining or enlightening. I've seen the odd blooper reel that looked somewhat scripted too, what's the point?

Lets face it, extras were invented to encourage people to move over to DVD from VHS. Now it's being used to encourage people to move over to Blu Ray. I don't want to move over to Blu Ray, I've barely managed to replace my VHS collection with DVD! There is a limit too, to how much I care about the picture definition. I can see it, and see it clearly. That'll do me.

A facet of my grumpiness with regard to it all is how distributors and studios work so hard to exploit us all. This new habit where they release different versions of the DVD and Blu Ray with a variety of different extras to try and get complete-ist geeks to buy all of them and raise their revenues more. I know that the home cinema market has impacted on Hollywood profits over the last few years and there's a constant battle to recover from that but I can't help but feel there better ways to go about it. Less pointlessly expensive CGI which still fails to be as convincing as promoted would be a good start.

I'm probably wrong, I know Big loves his insights into the making of the films and tv shows he loves but I rather want to protect my ignorance. For me it's like the Golden Days of Hollywood in a way, back when studios despotically controlled what information on their stars' lives got out to the public. Perhaps it wasn't in the best spirit of press freedom but not knowing their every failing, every bad choice and what they had for breakfast all added to the experience. Sometimes it's better not to know and to let the story you love live on.

Oh and don't even get me started on 3-D!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Dr Who Night

Tonight the new series of Dr Who airs. This is an event of no small importance in our home. We love Who. Big is a truly dedicated fan with a carefully built library of 40 years worth of episodes.

It's no small measure of how dedicated to his dj spot at the Turk Big is that when he was asked to swap his Friday night gig for the Saturday that he agreed even though it meant he'd have to miss it. Of course we're recording it, but it's not really the same. Because I am a good wife, of course I have decided to sit here and watch Man V Food reruns instead of Dr Who tonight, we will watch the season premier together. (it's the episode with the Doughman challenge, which would just make me heave. I like the idea of candied bacon on maple cupcakes though)

Small, being our child and subliminally aware at least of the importance of these things, aided me in keeping up my resolve by refusing to settle to sleep until enough of Dr Who had elapsed to make it pointless tuning in. What a wee hero. 

Friday, 31 August 2012

It's like walking, only faster.

Today, the sports bra I ordered arrived.
Tonight, I went running.

This is fairly momentous because up until now the whole idea of running has been something of an anathema to me but needs must.

I'm using the Couch 2 5K programme, mainly because I know a couple of other people who've used it and spoke highly of it. You can get an app for your phone which will work with your music files to talk you through the workout and so it all works rather well. Tonight I walked briskly for 5 minutes to warm up, then alternated jogging and brisk walking for 20mins, then five minutes normal walking to cool down.

The website also gives you a good guide about stretches too which adds on another 10 mins either side of the actual workout, I did it all. I did most of the workout in the graveyard over the road and after the first 10mins thought there was a fair chance I was actually gonna die. I stuck with it though and the rest actually wasn't too bad. I will have to find another place to run though, the graveyard is nice and private but it's not lit and with the nights drawing in, it's going to be pitch black in there in a couple of weeks. Not sure what route I'll take instead, the local area isn't really conducive and while I could head up to the park, it closes fairly early, earlier still in the winter. Hmmm, not sure.

Anyway, I ran and I survived. If I make it through the programme without death I might register for Parkrun too. There's also a running app out there that pretends you're being chased by Zombies :D

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Thursday Holding Page

African Pygmy Hedgehogs.
Seriously, I may struggle to find a cuter pic to share with you all on Thursdays, but I will try.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Panda Wednesday

It's Wednesday, so here is your weekly dose of panda. You're welcome.
pssssst, look up!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Toddler Logic

I'm trying to gently nudge Small towards attempting potty training. He's resisting.
Today after tea I had to change him anyway so figured we'd leave off the nappy until after his bath and got out the Pixar Cars pants I'd bought the other day.
He liked the pants right enough, spent a lot of time upside down trying to get a better look at Mater. We had yet another conversation about how if he needed to wee he should let me know and use the potty.

After about half an hour he got up from where he'd been lying and proclaimed 'oh dear, water!' at the suspicious but small puddle on the floor. 'oh dear,' I replied lightly 'have you had a wee?'

At this Small looked at me in surprise, gorgeous little face radiating innocence and from the very heart of his soul he told me 'oh no Mummy, wees go in the potty. Water happened

Oh right, of course.

Monday, 27 August 2012

CV Hell

Because I'm contemplating looking for a new job, I'm trying to write a CV (or resume, if you're in the US)

I haven't had to write one in about 10 years, they've changed a bit from the brief lists of employers, duties and educational qualifications that they used to be.

Now they're sales pitches.

I am not a woman given in any way to self-promotion. I do not even handle complements well from others, never mind complement myself. It's incredibly hard to change mental gears so enough of a degree that I don't just mumble vaguely about "well, I do that but lots of people do, it's nothing special"

Arg. Thank gods I have a good friend who is very kindly smacking me round the head with the kind of thing I should be saying. I wasn't raised to this kind of behaviour.

I'm very unsettled.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

And then, this happens.

We took Small to the park this afternoon, quite late on as Big had volunteered to buy us dinner in Nando's so we went to get some air before eating.

The duck pond  Ornamental Lake has water lilies and they're in bloom at the moment. It's really quite difficult to describe how beautiful I find water lily flowers, especially floating on mirror-still water in the late afternoon when everyone is heading off home and things are tranquil. Well, as tranquil as anywhere that includes Small can be.
Nature is not nice, it's not kind, it's not just, it's not transcendent. It's just sometimes, in rather unassuming ways, quite beautiful.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

“My mind rebels at stagnation, give me problems, give me work!”

I confess, I'm struggling a little with the fatigue at the moment. The pains and the weariness are one thing. I can deal with them, it's simply a matter of indulging it only to a point and slowly but surely reasserting myself over them until I'm back up to normal service.
What's harder to deal with is the how it gives my inner demons a chance to stick the boot in. It's very easy to find yourself walking the black dog. I never feel particularly lonely until he comes sniffing around, I have plenty of cherished friends, just none I think particularly close. I have no idea if it's normal to contemplate this but when skirting the depths of self-indulgent depression I find myself wondering how many of the people I count as friends would consider themselves close enough to attend my funeral. Yeah, that's messed up. Let us not go there.

The title quote is pretty much the answer, although as I'm not a Victorian fictional master detective, I seek no mysteries or intrigues. Just good reads, idle chatter and such like things to distract me from the navel gazing. I tend to pick up new hobbies or return to old ones around these times in order to distract myself.

On that note, I picked up a cake decorating book the other day. Up to now I've done my cakes pretty much out of my own head, googling for demo videos and tips as necessary.
Then I found this. Oh dear. Now my head is filled with dreams of towering, beautifully sculpted confections. I desperately want to give shape to the inspirations it's fueled. To the point that I was even beginning to convince myself that it was reasonable to make one of them just to test recipes and techniques before it counts. I mean, is this the behaviour of a sane woman?

I think we all know the answer to that question.